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1835: Description of Short Mountain Colliery


From Poulaon’s American Daily Advertiser.

In my late excursion through the country, bordering on the Susquehanna river, I visited Lykens Valley, in Dauphin County, and the coal mines on Bear Creek, a branch of the Wiconisco Creek, in William’s Valley; this valley is separated from Lykens by the short mountain, which terminates about four miles west of the coal mines.

The location of the mines is most advantageous— about 16 miles from the river at Millersburg—the rail road from the mines is now completed, and in use—it is a single tract, with turnouts —of easy grade, well made, and substantial—the coal, as mined, is loaded into the cars from a chute, at the mouth of the drifts, taken to the landing, and transported to the western side of the river in rail road fiats; the cars, which are easilv drawn from the boats up a rail road on the west of the river at Mount Patrick, are then discharged into canal boats, and forwarded to Columbia and other towns on the river—the coal destined for Port Deposite, and thence shipped to Baltimore, and other seaports, are loaded at Millersburg, in arks.

The mines belonging to the Wiconisco Company are fourteen in number—(laying from 40 to 80 feet apart) these are divided or cut through by a deep ravine, through which Bear Creek parses—from the water level to the top of the mountain, on both sides, is an elevation of about 800 feet—the veins thus divided are equivalent to 28- At present there are seven drifts from which coal is taken, four on the cast, and three on the west of the creek; three of these are seven feet in thickness, two, eleven feet, and two, five feet. These drifts are in very fine condition, and capable of delivering 150 tons of coal or more daily; the quality of the coal is very superior and pure—entirely free of slate— of easy ignition—burns with a strong flame, and is lasting. A gentleman who used it the last winter informed me, that the residuum was unusually small—in the use of a ton there was not more ashes (which arc of a reddish brown) than would fill a half peck. It is used in grates, stoves, by blacksmiths, distillers, and lime burners.

The town of Wiconisco is very pleasantly situated, It consists of a large brick building, agent’s residence, a large tavern house, kept by Vr. Sheafer, whose table is w ell supplied with fresh salmon and rock, trout, and pike fish; with pheasants and venison; he keeps an excellent house in every respect—a store; twelve miner’s houses, saw mill, smith’s shops, stables, &.c. The situation of the town is quite agreeable—-is in the vicinity of a dense population—the extended and fertile valley called Lykens—tios town must increase greatly—the first house was built in 1830-31.

The location of the mines is in the most southern range.- of the coal regions—the landing on the river only 26 miles above Harrisburg, and consequently 80 miles nearer market than any other coal which is brought.

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Short Mountain Colliery: Timeline 1900-1929


Placed set of rolls in Breaker to break down broken and egg coal.

Purchased Blake slush pump, 12” x 8” x 17.”

Trestle 40 feet high and 120 feet long built across Bear Creek to run cars with breaker rock to dumping ground.

December 20th, a 500 horsepower B & W boiler erected.

Purchased a Jeansville pump, 10” x 12” x 6.”

March 16th, No. 4 Slope flooded to a depth of 12 feet; idle 32 days.

Strike- 35 days, September 17 – October 29; 10% wage increase

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Short Mountain Colliery: Timeline 1825-1899

From Guy and Mary Scheib, Transcribed by Jake Wynn

Short Mountain Colliery: Events Which Increased or Decreased Production (1825-1899)


1825: Anthracite coal first discovered in this vicinity by Jacob Burd, Sr. and Peter Kimes, lower end of Short Mountain. A 1600 acre plot purchased by Thos. P. Cope for $400.00 partly paid with merchandise.

1830: April 7th– Lykens Valley Railroad and Coal Company formed to construct a railroad to Millersburg. This railroad was fourth in the United States and the first in Dauphin County to carry Anthracite coal.

1831: Wiconsico Coal Company was organized, consisting of six members. Simon Gratz, Samuel Richards, George H. Thompson, Charles R. Thompson, Henry Schreiner and Henry Scheffer. Work began on the Lykens Valley Drift, first miners were James Todarff, John Brown amd William Hall.

1833:  A slope was sunk into the Whites Vein about 70 feet from the surface by a miner named John White, the Vein named after him.

1834:  Railroad completed to Millersburg, coal cars were drawn by horse power on a flat strip rail, taking two days for one trip down. A number of ark loads of coal shipped down the Susquehanna River during the spring freshet. Later the coal cars were boated across the river from the end of the railroad at Millersburg to the Pennsylvania Canal at Mount Patrick. The first boat load of Lykens Valley coal sent by canal left Mount Patrick, Saturday, April 19 by a bat numbered 76, with 43 tons. Captain C. Faunce in charge, the shipment was consigned to Thomas Borbridge, Columbia, Pennsylvania.

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